Obituary: Ralph Zulman


The editorial board of Jewish Affairs was saddened to learn of the passing earlier this month of long-serving board member the Honourable Justice Ralph Zulman. Judge Zulman combined a stellar career on the Bench (culminating with his appointment to the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court) with over three decades of dedicated service to the Jewish community in various capacities. This included serving a term as National Vice-chairman of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies as well as one several of the Board’s most important subcommittees.

In addition to his enthusiastic support for Jewish Affairs, both as an editorial board member and frequent contributor, particularly of book reviews, Judge Zulman chaired the Board’s Country Communities Department for many years and was a key member of the Board’s Constitution & Legislation Subcommittee that did much to ensure the inclusion of anti-hate speech provisions in the new SA Constitution in 1996. The provisions against hate speech have since formed the bedrock of the Board’s subsequent work in terms of combating antisemitism in South Africa. Judge Zulman’s wisdom and experience, not just in terms of the law and how the South African legal system worked (including the introduction of Equality Courts, in which regard he was centrally involved) but also his track record in the fields of Holocaust education, human rights activism and preservation of the South African Jewish heritage was also invaluable. He was a former chairman of the Yad Vashem Foundation – South Africa.

In addition to his many years of dedicated communal service, Ralph Zulman was had a distinguished legal career, culminating in his serving on the bench of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court in Bloemfontein. He was a one-time chair of the SA Bar Council and much involved in the training of magistrates for the newly-instituted Equality Courts. In the academic sphere he published numerous scholarly articles in leading legal journals and was an honorary professor at the universities of the Witwatersrand, Pretoria and Johannesburg.

Ralph Hirsch Zulman is survived by wife, Lynette, whom he married in 1965, son Jeff, daughters Adrienne Louise Kaplan and Charlene Hilary Wingrin, and their families.

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